Social stratification is the division of society into different levels of rights and opportunities. An ideology is a perspective on political or social policies or structures. The dominant ideologies of political and community leaders often guide changes in social class rights and opportunities over time.

Perception Versus Reality

Ideology is a set of beliefs or values of an individual or group on how to best establish laws and govern society. It is based on values, experiences and personal perceptions. Stratification is the real way in which society is divided into classes, such as wealthy, middle class and poor. The dominant political ideology or perspective on the needs of a society typically influences the severity of delineation between groups within each social class.

Political vs. Social

Stratification and ideology have political and social factors. However, stratification is more of a social construct while ideology is typically viewed as a political concept. Virtually all societies have some division of people into social classes. These divisions are usually driven by income levels, though some cultures have long-held divisions based on history and family lineage. In the United States, the two dominant political ideologies shape the Republican and Democratic political parties.

Control vs. Consequence

Typically, the dominant political or social ideology during a given time frame controls much of the direction societal divisions take for a period of time. From a political standpoint, a Republican president or Congress often take stances that protect the rights to grow wealth and operate a profitable business, which is often viewed as perpetuating stratification levels. Democratic leadership tends to support an ideology that favors building up the lower income classes with policies aimed at reducing the level of stratification.

Longevity

Stratification is generally enduring or infinite in society. All societies in the world tend to have at least some level of stratification. Individual and leadership ideologies constantly change, though. In the U.S., dominant political parties with varied ideologies move in and out of office regularly. Additionally, individuals can often change many elements of their ideologies over the course of their lives based on changing beliefs and different influences.